Gary Alfano

ACI Expands Northeast Sales Team

Agri-Cover, Inc. has expanded its sales team with the addition of Gary Alfano. In his new role as regional account manager, Alfano is responsible for managing accounts on the northeast coast. He brings 15 years of automotive aftermarket experience to ACI and will be based out of Schnecksville, Pa.

MFEP Focuses on Energy Efficiency

The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP) now offers a Web site for growers interested in making energy efficiency improvements and developing alternative and renewable energy projects. The site provides step-by-step information about existing energy programs and services available to Bay State farmers and agribusiness, including energy audits, incentives and grant opportunities. Visit www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/mfep to learn more. The MFEP is a joint project of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, and the Patriot Resource Conservation and Development Area.

New Jersey Berries on the Rise

New Jersey’s blueberry crop reached an all-time high in 2007 for production and value of production, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 2007 New Jersey blueberry production figures showed there were 54 million pounds of blueberries produced at a value of $90.2 million last year. In 2006, the value of the blueberry crop set a previous record of $83 million. The increase in demand is attributed in part to the reported health benefits of eating blueberries. Prices farmers received for their blueberries also increased last year. The average price per pound was $1.67, up from $1.61 in 2006 and $1.23 in 2005. Blueberry growers reported the production increases were due to warm and dry spring weather last year that was conducive to pollination. Also, the newer Duke variety, which produces high yields, is reaching its peak of production. Despite the record-setting year, New Jersey still ranks second in the nation in blueberry production behind Michigan. In 2007, Michigan farmers produced 93 million pounds of blueberries, valued at $165 million. Like blueberry farmers, cranberry growers also benefited from favorable weather conditions that produced good bloom and pollination. New Jersey’s cranberry crop increased by 9 percent, with 531,000 barrels produced. That was up from the 2006 crop of 485,000 barrels. Nationally, cranberry production was down 7 percent last year. Cranberry producers in the Garden State realized a $20.7 million value of production in 2007, compared to $17.1 million in 2006. New Jersey ranked third in the nation in total production of cranberries, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

OPGMA Elects, Appoints New Officials

The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association has elected nine board members and officers. Bob Jones Jr. of The Chef’s Garden in Huron was elected as president; Richard Wander from Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala was elected as vice president; and Wally Thomen of Thomen Farms in Center-burg was elected secretary/treasurer. The other directors elected to the board are: Gregg Bachman, Bachman’s Sunny Hill Fruit Farm of Carroll; Loren Buurma, Buurma Farms, Inc. of Willard; Betty Eshleman, Eshleman Fruit Farm of Clyde; Daryl Knipp, Knipp Farms, Inc. of Oak Harbor; Tom Puch, Puch Berry Farm of Carrolton; and Lisa Schacht, Schacht Family Farm of Canal Winchester.

Organic Valley Contributes to Conservation

The New York Agricultural Land Trust (NYALT), a new non-profit organization dedicated to protecting land for the future of farming in New York, received contributions from both Byrne Dairy and Organic Valley to support the development of NYALT’s communication and outreach plan. NYALT, established this year as a 501(c)(3) organization, is currently working toward protecting 11 farms in Central New York, an effort that will result in the preservation of over 5,500 acres. Funding from Byrne Dairy, a Syracuse-based dairy processor, and OrganicValley, the nation’s largest organic farmers cooperative, will enable NYALT to create a Web site and printed materials for educating landowners and municipal officials about protecting farmland, as well as help the land trust to communicate with farm families interested in conserving their land for future generations. NYALT is New York’s only statewide agricultural land trust, and was created by farmers to assist landowners in identifying the best options for conveying agricultural conservation easements to permanently protect their property from development.

Massachusetts Awards Ag Grants

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles has announced $989,174 in grants to help the state’s agricultural sector diversify and compete in the marketplace. The ten awards will fund projects to explore farm-based renewable energy, conserve water, boost aquaculture and assist a slaughterhouse destroyed by fire. The state grants require substantial matching funds from industry and other sources. Recipients of the Agriculture Innovation Center grants include: the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, two grants totaling $239,263; Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, East Wareham, $81,543; Community Teamwork, Inc., Lowell, $50,000; Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association, North Amherst, $95,000; Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, South Deerfield, $50,000; Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Consortium, Barnstable, $48,368; Massachusetts Woodlands Cooperative, South Deerfield, $150,000; The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands, Phillipston, $25,000; and Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, Athol, $250,000.

New York Cooperative Seeks Producers

The Upstate New York Growers & Packers cooperative recently received a $189,000 grant from the New York Farm Viability Institute to help the cooperative grow and to provide marketing models for other producers. The grant will underwrite the costs of a manager/marketer for two years. The job is well defined and built around performance targets to reach at least $2 million in annual sales and 50 members by 2010. The position will be filled by mid-February and sales from the cooperative will support the job position after two years. The farmer cooperative was formed in 2002 and currently has 18 members from Albany, Herkimer, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario and Oswego counties. The group is also pursuing financing to construct a processing and distribution facility.

PMA Names Whitaker as Chief Scientific Officer

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has named Dr. Robert Whitaker as the association’s first chief scientific officer. Whitaker will direct the creation of PMA’s new science-based programs and services at a time when food safety, traceability, sustainability and other science-based issues are taking immediacy in the produce industry. Whitaker has worked in the produce and agricultural industries since 1982, most recently serving as vice president of product development and innovation at NewStar Fresh Foods of Salinas, Calif. He has testified before both houses of Congress as an expert witness on produce food safety in the last two years, and received the International Fresh-cut Processing Association’s (IFPA) Technical Achievement Award in 2006. He also served as the chairman of IFPA’s board that same year. He sits on the executive committee and the advisory board for the new center for produce safety at the University of California at Davis, and has served on the board of directors of United Fresh Produce Association. Whitaker will assume his position with PMA on April 1. He will initially be based in California.

USDA Establishes Quality Monitoring Program

The USDA has established a new service in response to the processed and fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s need to supplement internal quality control programs. The new Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) permits companies to submit specific processed produce samples for review to graders from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Chicago-based U.S. Foodservice is the first company to sign an agreement with AMS to provide QMP services at several of its distribution centers. After an AMS inspection, products that do not conform to assigned specifications are immediately reported back to the company. The produce industry relies on AMS’ trained inspectors to provide impartial review and certification of shipments in various stages of the marketing chain.

Staff Changes at Nunhems

Nunhems USA has named Russ Kabaker the integration manager and new lettuce crop sales manager after seven years of holding the crop sales manager position within the company’s carrot program. In his new position, Kabaker will oversee the design, implementation and execution of marketing and sales strategies for the combined Nunhems’ lettuce portfolio. He will also play a vital role in integrating Paragon Seeds, a lettuce seed breeding and production company recently acquired by Nunhems. John Erb succeeds Kabaker as carrot crop sales manager for the Americas.

Nunhems has also named Jeff Boettge  crops sales manager for the company’s onion and hot pepper programs. In this role, Boettge will lead teams of experts in research, product development and sales and marketing for the company’s onion and hot pepper portfolios across North and South America.

Bobcat Unleashes 50th Anniversary Contest

As part of its year-long, 50th anniversary celebration, Bobcat Company is launching the How Bobcat Unleashed Me Contest. The contest seeks input from customers on how Bobcat equipment has helped them in performing work better, smarter and faster. One winner will be selected to receive a $75,000 Bobcat gift certificate, good for products or attachments of the winner’s choice at a designated Bobcat dealer in North America. Five second prize winners will receive $1,000 gift certificates, 10 third prize winners will receive a Bobcat jacket and 50 monthly winners will receive the book “Bobcat: 50 Years of Opportunity, 1958 – 2008”. Weekly winners will receive a Bobcat 50th Anniversary hat and the grand prize will be selected from the weekly winners.

To enter, equipment users need to write a brief essay about their experiences with Bobcat equipment and fill out an entry form at the Bobcat 50 Years Unleashed Web site, www.bobcat.com/50. Entries will be judged on creativity, quality, completeness and originality of answers, as well as any supporting documents. Selected winning entries will be posted on the Web site. The contest concludes on May 30, 2008.

NESEED and D. Palmer Seed Merge

After 20 years in business for both companies, NESEED and D. Palmer Seed have merged. This merger forges DPSEEDS LLC to continue to work with over 15 independent plant breeders. In an effort to get growers what they need, NESEED will continue to market and be the liaison between grower s and the company’s breeding partners.  

New VP at Dosatron

Dosatron International, Inc., a manufacturer of water-driven, proportional chemical injectors with corporate offices in Clearwater, Fla., has named Gary Berglund as vice president of western market sales. Berglund was most recently a master distributor for Dosatron in the Pacific Northwest.

Organic Seeds Sought for OMRI Database

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) has cut prices for seed suppliers to list organic varieties in the Institute’s organic seed database. Established in October 2006, the database enables organic growers to search the diversity of available organic seed, both open pollinated varieties and newly developed hybrids. Additionally, the database offers an opportunity for seed companies to connect with growers. Previously, seed companies paid a flat $25 plus $50 for every five varieties included beyond the initial five. The new fee will be a $60 flat rate. The change in rate is an effort to encourage the participation of smaller, more diverse companies in OMRI’s service.

Dealer Devlopment Underway at McCormick

McCormick International USA has hired industry veteran Thurman Kirkland to lead its dealer development efforts and expand the number of dealers carrying the Landini and McCormick product lines. Kirkland will focus on all aspects of dealer development in the United States, including working directly with territory managers to expand the dealer base for both brands and assist in sales management efforts.

Zander New Director of Sales, Marketing at Manitou

Kirk Zander has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Manitou North America. Zander was initially hired as the Midwest regional sales manager, a position he held for six years. He also held the position of field sales manager for the past three years.